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MIKI MOONDROPS/Vegetable Head: Is it a kids record or isn't it? The Kansas bass ace sets her voice on twee serving up some left field sunshine pop if this is for grown ups. Just maybe it's for kids of all ages? A left field set that is loaded with different flavors but doesn't seem to ever talk down to anyone along the way. Certainly designed to be at the behest and call of sweet teeth everywhere looking for a new taste treat.

EASY STAR ALL STARS/Radiodread: A tenth anniversary revisit to one of the albums that started this crew on their progressive reggae journey, the dubby version of Radiohead's ‘OK Computer‘. So far removed from the hoopla of the time and still sounding relevant, there's of real reggae to be mined in these grooves---all the more amazing since it springs from Boston. It's nice to revisit a gasser and find it hasn't lost any of it's octane. Still hot stuff and still not for moldy figs.

BACKTRACK BLUES BAND/Way Back Home: So, what do a bunch of white boys from Florida have to have the blues about? Dunno, but this bunch has had them for 35 years. More west side Chicago blues than Allman Brothers blues, these cats might not be singing about picking cotton but they have that Butterfield/Texas fusion down cold serving up sizzling portions of the best of both. A first class party band for those who want more than beats on a hard drive, the goods are delivered here by the bushel. Check it out.

MICHAEL KAESHAMMER/No Filter: For his 11th album, Canadian piano man Kaeshammer revels in the joy of not caring a whit and following his muse. Many that have gone that route before will tell him it's artistically satisfying and a whole lot of fun. With a package of skills to fall back on, it's nice to see him take the chance and unleash his inner bopping cat and follow his eclectic muses leading him to make music that's a gasser and will create rabid cults at the very least. A singer/songwriter that's been to church as well as back alleys the night before, this is pure uncut stuff that sounds like where Tom Waits would have gone 40 years ago with a more pleasing voice. A dandy wild ride by a sure handed pro.

KENDRA SHANK & GEOFFREY KEEZER/Half Moon: An impromptu piano/jazz vocal recording that was recorded on an off chance at a friend's house giving these two artists the chance to create art in the moment relying on nothing more than their collective deep chops and mental telepathy. A naked and exposed view of real artistic minds perfectly in synch, jazzbos looking for that special moment of lightning captured in a bottle that'll never come again have got their own, personal chart topper right here. Simply, elegant and wildly killer stuff.

SIMRIT/Songs of Resilience: Born in Greece, raised in the South and enamored with taking her holy music into chant places, this is a first class girl friend record as it's yoga/meditation music with beat. Ensnaring and never boring, this is tailor made for the distaffers who need to get away from the everyday for a while whether ducking out to yoga class or running on a fancy treadmill. This performer knows her stuff well and presents her own original throughout.

SUN TRODDEN: In which we find indie pop going minimalist and experimental in the guise hiding Erik Stephansson behind it all. Those college kids are always looking for a new way to go in through the out door--before anyone else does.

GIRSHEVICH TRIO/Algorithmic Society: Hmm, piano trio smooth jazz with Latin influences, Eddie Gomez on bass and a father/son team at the core with the son being a 12 year old tyro drummer whose sense of time and timing would have you think he has a Swiss mechanism for a heart. What's not to like? The kind of date that's hallmarked by real playing by real players and doesn't need anything flashier than that going for it, jazzbos, start your engines and turn your ears in this direction. Killer stuff.

MATTHEW SKOLLER/Blues Immigrant: An arts council record funded by the City of Chicago that isn't an insular, in group thing but actually has artistic merit beyond the in group? I don't know how to respond. A cat that's been working in the Chicago blues vineyard for quite a while to major acclaim steps out on his own and shows how there's no substitute for a real apprenticeship in the classroom of the streets, back alleys and dingy bars. West side blues with an accessible rocking edge that this white boy will spread to his fellow white boys, this is one smoking cat we're glad to see the city get behind in an era when you have to do it for yourself. We're certainly glad he ditched New York to transplant it here because he's got us in his blood. Hot stuff.

VANESSA TRIEN & the Jumping Monkeys/Wonderful You: Not for nothing does Trien's kiddie work hold it's own against stuff preceding it by Pete Seeger, John McCutcheon or Woody Guthrie. Coming on like the aunt you enjoy coming over (as opposed to the weird one that you'll like as you get older), this multiple Parent's Choice award winner makes grown up pop for kids that doesn't rely on licensed characters, coming from her heart as well as her mind. Seeding the young minds with positive messages that aren't trite or drippy, I'd love to sit in the back row of one of her concerts but some uptight mom would probably call the cops. Thank God for records. Especially kids records that throw Johnny Otis into the mix. Dazzlingly wonderful stuff and highly recommended to parents who wish their kid would have a new, favorite recording.

Volume 39/Number 291
August 19, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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